The Canes dropped another conference game, losing to the #5 ranked Duke Blue Devils 83-75. With 8 minutes left, Miami looked like they were again going to knock off Coach K like they’ve done so many times under Coach Larranaga, as they led 66-53. But Duke finished the game on a 30-9 run, exposing the flawed Canes and leaving Miami 2-3 in their first 5 ACC games. After dropping to #25 in the polls before the game started, Miami’s outlook as an ACC and national contender was already threatened, but at the current rate the Canes NCAA tournament aspirations are under seige. Luckily, it’s early enough in the season for the Canes to right the ship, but thinking that approaching the games the same way without making some changes is insanity. Here are some changes that need to be made for the Canes to start winning again:
Play through Dewan Huell
If you would have told me that Dewan Huell (18 points, 13 rebounds) outplayed Marvin Bagley III (13 points, 12 rebounds) in last night’s game, I would assume that Huell touched the ball every time down the floor and the Canes left the Watsco Center with a win. Neither of those things happened, as Huell had a monster game in spite of the ball hanging around the perimeter for too much of the game on offense, and the Canes were dominated in the waning moments of the game and saw their 13 point lead evaporate. Too many games have seen Huell sneak in the back door with a quality performance. Having a career year on both ends of the floor, I would like to see the offense work through Huell more instead of relying on the guards to create (more on that next).
Run with the young guys
Coach Larranaga has been gradually working towards this throughout the season, but now is the time to fully commit to the freshman duo of Lonnie Walker IV and Chris Lykes. Walker (19 points) has taken Dejan Vasiljevic’s place in the starting lineup for the last 3 games, and Lykes (13 points) has seen his minutes increase each game as he continues to put up quality performances. However, too often do we see one or both of these players on the bench in crucial moments. During the Blue Devils’ 30-9 run, Ja’Quan Newton and Vasiljevic were torched by Duke’s freshman duo of Gary Trent Jr. (30 points) and Trevon Duval (17 points). Bruce Brown Jr. had off night shooting (7 points on 3/12 shooting) which further complicated matters, but that was still more than Newton and Vasiljevic combined (3 points). The Canes best lineup is Huell, Lawrence II, Walker, Brown Jr, and Lykes. Coach L needs to find a way to have that lineup on the floor in crucial moments.
Stop shooting so early in the clock
Duke had 2 extended runs in the game, one in each half. What usually marks the Canes scoring droughts are difficult shots taken early in the shot clock. This style of play is counterintuitive to the Canes strengths, as Miami usually wins low scoring affairs with outstanding half court defense. Early, difficult shots often lead to long rebounds, which create transition opportunities for the other team, which lead to easy buckets for the other team. You can tell the Canes fell into this bad habit by the fact that the Canes took 22 more shots than the Blue Devils, but had 11 less free throw attempts. Poor offensive sets compromise the Canes defense, as last night Duke shot 55% from the field, well above the Canes average allowed. Miami needs to be patient and work for the better shot.
I’m sure Coach Larranaga has other changes up his sleeve for this team, but we can all agree that something needs to be done to shake up the Canes. It’s not too late for Miami to figure things out to make a postseason run, but an inability to adapt could leave Miami out of the postseason altogether. What changes do you think need to be made? Let us know in the comments below.